Dwight Baldwin was born on September 29, 1798 to Seth Baldwin (1775 –1832,) (a framer) and Rhoda Hull Baldwin in Durham, Connecticut, and moved to Durham, New York, in 1804. His father, He was the second of 12 children. (Baldwin Genealogy)
He was employed with his father on the farm, enjoying the benefits of the common school, and generally in winter of a select school, till the age of sixteen. In the fall of 1814, he commenced the study of Latin, with a view to prepare for College.
The last of his teachers being a graduate of Williams College, he was induced to enter at Williams, where he spent two years; and then he left Williams and entered Yale College, where he graduated in September, 1821.
By the recommendation of President Day, the next two years he was employed as Principal of the Academy in Kingston, Ulster County, NY. A third year was spent in teaching a select school in Catskill, Greene county. He then devoted himself to the study of medicine, at the same time teaching a select school in Durham, NY.
Then, he got caught in the religious fervor; about the first of March, 1826, he found relief in believing in an Almighty Redeemer, a hope which has never forsaken him. Religion became the all-absorbing subject of his thought by day and by night. (Baldwin Genealogy)
He soon came to the decision to join a mission, and September 3, of that year, he united with the Congregational Church in Durham, NY, and soon after he entered the Theological Seminary at Auburn, where he spent three years, offering his services into the American Board of Boston for a Foreign Mission … and they were accepted.
He did not have time to await official recognition of his medical degree so at direction of the Prudential Committee he took his diploma as Master of Science. He was ordained at Utica, NY on October 6, 1830.
He was introduced by a friend to Charlotte Fowler, daughter of Deacon Solomon Fowler of North Branford, Connecticut, and a few weeks later was married to her on December 3, 1830. Twenty-five days later they set sail with the Fourth Company of missionaries to Hawaiʻi on the ship ‘New England;’ he arrived at Honolulu, June 7, 1831. (Baldwin)
They ended up in Maui. Construction on the coral-and-rock Baldwin House began in 1834 and was completed in 1835; it’s the oldest house in Lāhainā.
The thick walls were made of coral and stone. The structure was sturdy consisting of hand-hewn timbers. In 1840, a bedroom and study was added, and in 1849, an entire second story was completed.
The faithful restoration of the Baldwin Home by the Lāhainā Restoration Foundation is based on careful documentary and archeological research.
It is part of the Lāhainā National Historical American Buildings Survey. It was deeded to the Lāhainā Restoration Foundation by the HP Baldwin Estate in 1967. It can never be sold and will remain in the Public Domain in perpetuity.
The home itself, the household furniture, the aged photographs and artifacts, the displays and library present a picture of the missionary who was both a physician and a constructive community force.
His educational background coupled with many natural abilities guided him to be helpful in the establishment of a system of just and democratic laws and most importantly the education of the Hawaiian people who learned much besides religion.
They were taught reading and writing in Hawaiian and English trained in agriculture and mechanics, studied the practical arts in the high school above Lāhainā; and finally learned to understand constitutional government, diplomacy and finance.
As a practicing physician, Rev. Baldwin treated and helped save the people of Maui, Molokai and Lāna‘i.
A series of epidemics swept through the Hawaiian Islands, whooping cough and measles, soon after followed by waves of dysentery and influenza; then, in 1853, a terrible smallpox epidemic.
Although precise counts are not known, there were thousands of smallpox deaths on O‘ahu; Baldwin is credited with keeping the toll to only a few hundred on Maui.
Dwight Baldwin was patriarch of a family that founded some of the largest businesses in the islands. His son, Henry Perrine Baldwin (1842–1911) and Samuel Thomas Alexander (1836–1904; also son of a missionary) met in Lāhainā, Maui.
They grew up together, became close friends and went on to develop a sugar-growing partnership that spanned generations and left an indelible mark on Hawai‘i – Alexander & Baldwin (one of Hawai‘i’s Big Five companies.)
In addition, sons Henry Perrine Baldwin and David Dwight Baldwin laid the foundation for what is now known as Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc in the late 1800s through the acquisition of land and formation of associated companies.
In 1870 Dwight and Charlotte moved to Honolulu as their health deteriorated and lived with their daughter Harriet (called “Hattie”). Charlotte died October 2, 1873, and Dwight died on January 3, 1886; they are buried at the Kawaiahaʻo Church cemetery.
Lāhainā Restoration Foundation oversees and maintains 11 major historic structures in Lāhainā and provides tours of the Baldwin House. Hours of Operation: Open Daily from 10 am – 4 pm ($5 Kama‘āina admission); Candlelit Tours Fridays 6 pm – 8:30 pm ($6 Kama‘āina admission)